Gators survive Louisiana on blocked punt, lose Driskel
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - The Florida Gators lost quarterback Jeff Driskel to an ankle injury.
But thanks to a pair of scores in the final 1:42, they didn't lose the game.
Jelani Jenkins returned a blocked punt 36 yards for a touchdown with two seconds remaining, and the seventh-ranked Gators escaped with a 27-20 win over the visiting Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.
Jacoby Brissett, who came on in relief of Driskel, threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar to tie the game.
Florida's defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, calling a timeout to force a Louisiana punt with 13 seconds to go. Loucheiz Purifoy blocked the punt and the ball landed in the arms of Jenkins, who raced to the end zone.
The Gators, though, were knocked out of contention for a spot in the SEC title game. Georgia throttled Auburn, 38-0, Saturday night to win the SEC East.
Louisiana scored 17 straight points after Florida (9-1) had taken a 13-3 lead early in the second half.
"We fought and we believed," said Louisiana quarterback Terrance Broadway. "I told the team after the game, 'I'm really proud of you all.' I am just happy to be a part of this team. We fought our butts off."
After Caleb Sturgis kicked a 21-yard field goal, the Ragin' Cajuns (5-4) responded with a nine-play, 77-yard trek that culminated in a two-yard TD run by Alonzo Harris.
Driskel was injured on the next Florida drive, limping off the field after being tackled for no gain on a second-down run. It got worse for the Gators after Brissett threw a 1-yard screen pass to Mike Gillislee.
Louisiana's Bradley Brown blocked a Kyle Christy punt and Blake Comminie returned it 22 yards for the go-ahead score. Brett Baer kicked a 22-yard field goal in the early moments of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 20-13.
With time becoming an enemy, Brissett engineered a game-tying drive. Facing a 3rd-and-3 from the Louisiana 42, Brissett found Jordan Reed for 39 yards on a downfield strike that preceded Dunbar's grab.
"We managed the game very well late in the game as far as field position was concerned, as far as time was concerned, and what we wanted to do," said Florida coach Will Muschamp. "We've talked about it, we've emphasized it every day, every situation and now we just need to figure out what we need to do to move forward and improve our team. We need to continue to work on our team, but again to win the game in that fashion certainly is credited to our character and our kids."
The Ragin' Cajuns turned the ball over on the game's opening drive as Sharrif Floyd forced a fumble after 6-yard reception by Harry Peoples. Jon Bostic made the recovery at the Louisiana 28 and despite the favorable field position, Florida failed to move the chains and settled for a 38-yard Sturgis field goal.
Later in the first quarter, Broadway found Darryl Surgent for a 48-yard catch-and-run, setting up a 49-yard field goal by Baer.
The Gators' offense struggled to consistently move the ball until finally gaining traction late in the opening half. Driskel ran for gains of 10 and 22 yards before Omarius Hines took a screen pass into Louisiana territory.
Driskel then found Reed for 30 yards on a post pattern, setting up Trey Burton's short touchdown reception with seven seconds remaining.
Florida fed off the momentum of the late score as Hines opened the second half with a 32-yard run. A face mask penalty was tacked on at the end of the play, placing the ball at Louisiana 29. Driskel then set up a 1st-and-goal with a 24-yard run, but the Gators couldn't reach the end zone and Sturgis connected on a field goal to make it a 10-point game.
Driskel completed 13-of-16 passes for 98 yards and rushed for 76 yards on 12 carries ... Broadway had 171 yards on 16-of-23 efficiency ... The game featured 15 punts, including eight by Florida ... The Gators and Ragin' Cajuns met for the first time since 1996.
11/10 22:52:17 ET